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Biophys Chem. 2000 Aug 30;86(2-3):173-8.

Structural and thermodynamic aspects of cooperativity in the homodimeric hemoglobin from Scapharca inaequivalvis.

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CNR Center of Molecular Biology and Department of Biochemical Sciences, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.


The homodimeric cooperative hemoglobin from the mollusk Scapharca inaequivalvis displays an unusual subunit assembly with respect to vertebrate hemoglobins. The intersubunit contact region is formed by the two heme-carrying E and F helices, which bring the two hemes in contact with each other. At variance with tetrameric vertebrate hemoglobins, the ligand binding is not accompanied by a significant quaternary transition. The major ligand-linked changes are tertiary and are limited to the heme pocket and subunit interface. These unique structural features of HbI are not easily reconciled with the classical thermodynamic models used to describe cooperative ligand binding in vertebrate hemoglobins. The lack of distinct quaternary states and the absence of allosteric effectors suggested that cooperativity in HbI is entirely homotropic in origin. Thereafter, high resolution X-ray crystallographic data displayed the preferential binding of water molecules at the intersubunit interface in the unliganded protein with respect to the liganded one. These ordered water molecules were thus proposed to act as heterotropic effectors in HbI. The contribution of specific water binding to the observed cooperativity in HbI is discussed in the framework of the enthalpy-entropy compensation effect emerging from previous accurate equilibrium oxygen binding measurements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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